Mar 14 • 5M

Life in Alabama, off Twitter

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Welcome to Sex and the State, a newsletter about power. I’m a writer working on decriminalizing and destigmatizing all things sex. I synthesize empirical evidence, stories, and personal experience to interrogate existing power structures to propose new, hopefully better, ways of relating. To support my work, buy a subscriptionfollow me on OnlyFans, or just share this post!

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I took a week and a half off Twitter. One of the worst things about being hate mobbed is being forced to recognize the existence of people who fill their time by direct messaging strangers hateful messages and ginning up their followers to harass people they didn’t know existed five minutes ago. It’s extremely sad and somewhat scary.

In the interim, I’ve exchanged checking the pulse of my corner of the internet with a keen interest in the lives of some of the people in physical proximity to me. And not for many years, if ever, have this many people been in such close physical proximity to me.

I ended up staying at my sister’s place longer than expected, including four days with all four (4) of her children. It was overwhelming. Every few minutes there was some unpleasant sound, an alarm, a kid coughing, a dog barking, a kid yelling, kids fighting, mom yelling at kids. They were all sick, and then of course I got sick.

It was a whirlwind of chaos, and I felt more out-of-control than in a very long time. Since I had Covid right before moving here, I’ve felt extremely out-of-control. Staying with people is discombobulating. I’m extremely grateful multiple people were willing to host me. And also I nearly cried when I learned the kids were staying two extra days before going to their dad’s. I’ve gone from spending most of every day in a room by myself to being in at least one person’s company nearly 24/7.

Loneliness is a big part of what made moving to SF difficult. In Alabama, it’s the exact opposite so far. There’s a bunch of people around me almost all the time. But at the same time, I only know two people here who use Twitter.

Finally in my condo, today is my first day in Alabama totally alone. Well, I didn’t wake up alone. Another change from SF. But since he left, I’ve been alone. I spent two hours cleaning. Pro-tip: Don’t triple your floor space until you can afford a cleaning service.

But it’s been interesting tuning into the soap opera that is other people’s lives. I like thinking through their relationship difficulties. It feels like I get to know myself better to think through how I think I would handle similar situations.

It’s also been interesting noticing the differences between SF and Huntsville. Like hearing Contemporary Christian playing in the nail salon, with an ad for an attorney talking about his relationship with Christ.

For a few days, the little pocket in my purse that used to hold baggies of drugs contained the extra key to my niece’s journal that she kindly entrusted to me.

As alluded to earlier, I’ve been seeing someone. He’s the person who broke up with me right before I moved here. There was a moment when he was driving my sister and me to get Chick-fil-A and I just laughed. It was a Thursday night, I want to say. And it was just so different from my typical Thursday night in SF. They don’t have Chick-fil-A there.

But then on Friday night I was sitting on my couch, stoned on Delta-8 (which is legal here), watching trash TV. I felt myself exhale. This was a typical Friday night for me. It was a life raft of normalcy in a sea of change.

The compatibility with this dude is questionable, but the chemistry is not. It’s been interesting getting to know him and myself. I’m enjoying learning where we align and where we do not. For instance, he doesn’t describe himself as a feminist. Shocker, in Alabama, I know. But it’s not just conclusions we differ on, but some values. For instance, he values whether or not something is “natural.” I could generally give a shit. “Cities are unnatural,” he said to me one night. “So is indoor plumbing,” I retorted. (It’s amazing anyone has sex with me.) If anything, I’m skeptical of considering naturalness because of the naturalistic fallacy. I think the conclusions one comes to is less important to me than the path they take to come to their conclusions. He’s willing to update his priors in light of new evidence, and understand where evidence can and should be employed when making decisions.

I’ve enjoyed having thorny discussions with people outside my filter bubble. This dude I’m seeing really wants more kids but doesn’t want to use a surrogate or adopt. I really don’t want to ever be pregnant, so I was asking him why he doesn’t like surrogacy. Of course, it was because it’s unnatural. Then my sister piped up with the fact that surrogacy often involves selective abortion. Now I’m pro-choice all the way for other people’s uteri. But for myself I’m on very effective birth control because I would really hate to evacuate my own uterus. So that’s something to consider that I hadn’t before.

I still can’t say whether I like it here. I still haven’t walked to Trader Joe’s yet. It’s not feeling like it was a terrible choice. I haven’t saved any money on net. Everything is cheaper here, but buying a condo and just the bare minimum to run a household is expensive. But I’m hoping buying instead of renting will turn out to be a wise decision long-term. And I really, really love having a dishwasher and washer and dryer. Rents are crazy here, and seem likely to keep rising. As I’ve been saying, sooner or later the housing crisis will hit every growing US city.

I have a few friends. My sister, of course. That dude’s friends. A couple I knew from Twitter live here and are awesome. I’m looking forward to meeting more people and asking more questions and walking around and paying my taxes and starting to save again.